Doha, Qatar, April 29, 2016 – Drama, excitement and emotions were at their best as GCC champions Al Rayyan Club claimed the first title of the domestic season after an epic 21-25 25-14 25-17 32-34 18-16 victory over El Jaish in the final of the Qatar Cup Volleyball Championship on Thursday.
Qatar Volleyball Association President Khalid Ali al Mawlawi presided over the closing ceremony and presented the awards.
Al Rayyan Club’s Wilfredo Leon Venoro, replacing an unfit Russian Dmitriy Ilinykh for the final, was adjudged the Man-of-the-Final and presented $2,000. His team earned QR300,000, while El Jaish took QR150,000.
At the Ali Bin Hamad Al Attiya Arena in Al Sadd, Al Rayyan, figuring in their 21st final, were rattled by the army team and fell one set behind. But they regained their poise and finesse to win the next two sets to go 2-1 up.
Al Rayyan, whiich replaced Russian Dmtiriy Ilinykh with talented Cuban cum Polish star Wilfredo Leon Venoro, appeared in control of the fourth set but made the mistake of relaxing their grip midway.
At 16-18 suddenly, El Jaish struck back with world’s best middle blocker Robertlandy Simon leading their fightback.
His team-mate Oreol Camejo, who was subdued a bit by Al Rayyan blockers Braima Fawi and Bilal Abu Nabout in that set, joined the act. The two supported Bojan Dokic well to save five match points, El Jaish finally converted their fourth set point with Dokic’s ace.
The plot got thicker in the fifth after El Jaish rode Simon’s pulsating net play and led 6-1. Al Rayyan then managed to draw level at 12 with Venoro and Zbigniev Bartman, another Polish player, drilling some breath-taking spikes.
With drum-beating fans cheering on, El Jaish were the first to get a chance to win the trophy. They got two more opportunities through Simon. But the atmosphere got tense and El Jaish were thwarted by Bartman’s smashes.
Then it was the turn of Al Rayyan to be in the position to seal the victory with double blocks on Simon and Camejo, which brought Bartman to serve out the match. The Pole fired a jump-service on libero Marko Stevanovic and the return went out over the sidelines, completing their stirring 3-2 victory in two hours and 16 minutes, much to the joy of their teammates and fans.
For Al Rayyan, this was the ninth Qatar Cup, which was called the Heir Apparent’s Cup till 2013-14 season. For El Jaish, this was the first major final. The army team had earlier beaten Al Arabi Club and won the QVA Cup, which is the season-opener but not considered as prestigious as the Qatar Cup and Emir’s Cup.
Venoro earned 31 points for the winners. Bartman collected 21 and was just brilliant in the closing stages. Mubarak Dahi Waleed, who was shown the Yellow Card by the chair umpire for dissent, had 9, Fawi accounted for 8 and setter Andre Luiz had 7, all playing important roles for their team.
El Jaish were topped by Simon, who landed 37 points. Camejo chipped in 22. Dokic had only 8, while setter Milos Stevanovic’s 9 had a few exciting dumps. Papemagutte Diagne garnered six and was injured towards the close of the match.
Al Rayyan Club coach Igor Arbutina said, “It was a very interesting game with a lot of stars being present in the final. I must say that my team played very well especially in the block and defence.
“Every fan must have enjoyed but I’m proud of my team for the way they handled the situation. We’re close to the defeat but they played superbly and snatched the victory from El Jaish. That’s why I’m saying I’m overwhelmed by my team’s performance.
“This was the fourth competition of the season for us and We recently won the GCC title. My players are capable for dealing with such tough situations. In the tie-break set, we were down 1-6 and then faced a few match points. However, we came back and managed to win such a thriller,” added Arbutina.
Man-of-the-Final Venoro commented after the final, “This is the fourth gold medal for me with Al Rayyan. Last season, we lost the Emir’s Cup and we said we won’t lose the big finals. I’m really delighted for my team.
“Many big players are playing here. The game is getting high in the League, Qatar Cup and Emir’s Cup every year. I am so happy to see the level rise here.”
Bartman was delighted with his team’s great effort. “Yes, we’re extremely happy to have won. It was quite difficult match. El Jaish played fought hard till the end. They demonstrated it in the fourth and fifth set.
“It was a wonderful final for the fans as there were lots of dramatic moments. In the tie-break, El Jaish were ahead most of the time. We did not give up as a team and kept battling and in the end, we won the amazing match. So happy for the team and Al Rayyan fans,” said the Polish player.
Al Rayyan’s experienced players Usman Ajab said, “I think we came through this stiff final just because of our experience. El Jaish played a fantastic final because they included two big professionals in their team.
“In the deciding set, we were trailing but we used our experience to come back and win the final. Tonight, we’ll celebrate and then we’ll start working for the Emir’s Cup,” he added.
Stevanovic of El Jaish said, “I don’t know what to do. All the players and fans are under tremendous stress after the defeat. It is quite unfortunate that we were in situation to win the final but we could not pull it off.
“But I’m not disappointed after losing such a memorable and amazing match. Rather, I’m proud of my team-mates and I hope we’ll carry this form into the upcoming Emir’s Cup,” said the El Jaish setter.
Al Rayyan Club beat El Jaish 21-25 25-14 25-17 32-34 18-16 in 2:16 hours
Al Rayyan: Osman Ajab (captain), Ali Asadi, Suleiman Saeed (L), Ali Ishaq, Zbigniev Bartman, Bilal Abu Nabout, Mubarak Dahi Waleed, Edin, Wilfredo Leon Venoro, Braima Fawi and Andre Luiz.
Head coach: Igor Arbutina; Assistant Coach: Karim Ben Ayad; Team Manager: Nasser al Malik
El Jaish: Marko Stevanovic (L), Amr Sokolar, Othman Abdulwalid, Emir Makas, Mubarak Abdulrahman, Oreol Camejo, Bojan Dokic, Milos Stevanovic, Ilija Ivovic, Youssef Aghlaf, Robertlandy Simon, Marwan Ali, Mohammed Abuwatfa, and Papemagutte Diagne
Head Coach: Zohair Belhadj; Team Manager: Khalid al Kaabi